Lying to friends for money

Jason Calacanis is always good for a laugh:


Calacanis, September 18:

Nice knowing you YouTube.

YouTube is the new Napster and their fate will be the same.

I don’t think any of the big media companies are desperate enough for YouTube’s

traffic to buy their company/impending lawsuits and collapse.

In fact, if someone at the company I worked for made a run at YouTube I would

fight it to my last dying breath for a) our shareholders and b) the fact that

there is no long-term business model stealing people’s content. I know executives

from the other big media/Internet companies and they have a similar "hell

no!" approach to acquiring YouTube. That’s why you see everyone making

their own syndicated video services–we all know that YouTube is on the brink

of extinction.


Calacanis, October 6:

Google to buy YouTube? Perfect match.

This makes total sense to me for a number of reasons:

Congrats to everyone involved… this deal makes total sense.

But sometimes he really does makes sense:


Calacanis, October 7:

Why PayPerPost, their investors, and their advertisers should be

ashamed of themselves.

The fact is no one in the world–NO ONE–wants to be covertly marketed

to. Add to that the fact that PayPerPost enables people you consider your

friends–or who you thought were your friends–to covertly market to you for

profit. That’s really evil in my book.

Jason, here, really puts his finger on something which has been bothering me

for a couple of months. You see, on July 17, I got an email from a friend of

mine – let’s call her E. The subject line was "hot new blog!"

and this is what it said, along with a couple of photos:

I found the craziest, funniest (& saddest) blog! This woman, Emily finds

out her husband’s cheating on her with her best friend… you HAVE TO read

the previous blogs she wrote to catch up–it takes all of 10 min. to read

And now she’s put up a BILLBOARD in NYC! She’s off her rocker — check it


Her blog site:

Pass it on!

I replied:

I reckon it’s fake. But tell me: How did you find this blog?

And she wrote back:

it was forwarded to me…

So I wrote a blog entry

about That Girl Emily, helping to give it whatever buzz an entry on

is worth.

It didn’t take long for the blog and its associated billboards to be outed

as a cheap publicity stunt for a TV series. But it took a little bit longer

for my friend E to out herself as the author of the blog.

Let’s go back to what Calacanis said: No one wants to be covertly marketed

to, and it’s "really evil" when "friends–or people you thought

were your friends– covertly market to you for profit".

E was anything but transparent about her covert marketing email, and when I

pressed her on it she lied outright for the sake of her covert marketing strategy

– something for which, she later assured me, she was very handsomely paid.

I felt betrayed, and I think now I understand why. It’s one thing to write

a fake blog for money; it’s another thing to abuse your personal relationships

with your friends by lying to them for your paymasters’ sake – especially

when your friends are bloggers with a high Google PageRank and thousands of

visitors per day. Essentially, I was conned by the author of a marketing campaign

into turning my blog into valuable publicity for that campaign. Maybe E thought

it was all a big joke, but I didn’t find it very funny.

If friends of mine send me stuff, and I double-check with them, I will take

them at face value. And if they lie to me, I’m not going to see the joke. Calacanis

is right that Pay Per Post is exactly the same. If bloggers I trust write something

enthusiastic about a product and don’t disclose that they’re being paid to do

so, that’s an abuse of trust and a lie, and I will feel betrayed by

them and I will not understand.

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4 Responses to Lying to friends for money

  1. bafc23 says:

    let the storm begin – the guardian reporting this morning that warner bros will pursue legal action against youtube/google. ironic since i have insider knowledge that wb publicity flacks have posted material to youtube as a means of ‘virally’ marketing thier movies.

  2. michelle says:

    All right, Felix. Before you out me too I’ll just come clean. Right here on, for whatever that’s worth. I don’t really exist. I didn’t really have cancer. I’m actually super afraid of heights. I hate the cold so I don’t really ice climb or ski. Even more disappointing, I’ve never had bisexual thoughts. And I’m really about 300 lbs (plus or minus 10 depending on whether I’m on may way to or from Krispy Kreme). The book deal made me do it!

  3. 99 says:

    For what’s it worth, I have bedded married women and I do think Charles Gwathmey is a hack. The only book deal I got was some freebies from PAP.

    But becuase I’m too lazy to do the research, did you not post about that billboard after Curbed and Gawker? Are you that gullible, even if it was a friend?

  4. Felix says:

    No, I got there before Curbed and Gawker. I wouldn’t have posted otherwise.

Comments are closed.